Tuesday, April 23, 2013

“Lord of all Nations (Amos) ”

Second Quarter 2013 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“Lord of all Nations (Amos) ”
For the week of Apr 27, 2013
Lord of All Nations (Amos)
For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many....nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom....And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. Matt 24:5-14.
I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, [that] the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. Rev. 3:18.
No doubt about it - we are living in times when the prophecy of Christ found in Matthew 24 is finding stark fulfillment. Offense, betrayal, hatred, and lawlessness are coexistent with claims of an emerging new age in which “god” is in everyone, just waiting to be expressed. However, the god of this world has no desire to solve the sin problem.
We serve a personal, sovereign God who loves justice and mercy, and who promises to set right the rebellious wrongs of humanity. Like Judah and Israel of old, we might be glad as we hear the voice of Amos proclaiming God’s justice against the wickedness and oppression of the world. 
But we can also tremble as we read the list of besetting sins in chapters 2 and 3 that we would by parallel apply to ourselves as spiritual Israel today:
  • Despising the law and breaking the commandments
  • Following lies about God and His will
  • Practicing greed and avarice
  • Perverting the way of the humble
  • Winking at sexual immorality
  • Closing our ears to the prophet
  • Promoting unhealthy lifestyles
Yet as the called out remnant at the end of time, we have a responsibility to minister to the spiritual and physical needs of all humanity in spite of ourselves. Isaiah 58 gives us a broader definition of what it means to be Sabbathkeepers in the end of time.
Clearly we cannot accomplish the Lord’s work for the world in this time without the cleansing, enduring love coming from heart appreciation of the gospel. When we can let the “light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” shine in and through us, then our light can “break forth as the morning,” bringing a healing righteousness to ourselves and the world. We desperately need what the Laodicean Messenger prescribes!
We might individually ask ourselves - How much am I giving to lift the oppression of those weighed down with sin? Do I have a practical Christianity that is and extension of God’s love to me? Am I lifting others up with the blessings I have received?
We have been richly blessed with a picture of the love of God without precedent in human history. Mercy and Justice have kissed at the cross. How can we be silent and passive in the light of such love?  We are to prepare to meet our God, and not come empty-handed, but with friends and loved ones to swell the chorus, “Just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of saints!”
Rather than taking a fortress mentality like the Edomites (the land of Esau), rejoicing that we are not in the captivity of others while we look on their afflictions from a distance, we are to get out there and help in this work. 
O Lord, save us from pride and inactivity, and fulfill your word in us!
But on Mount Zion there shall be deliverance, And there shall be holiness; The house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.
The house of Jacob shall be a fire, And the house of Joseph a flame; But the house of Esau [shall be] stubble; They shall kindle them and devour them, And no survivor shall [remain] of the house of Esau," For the LORD has spoken. Obadiah 1:17,18
All those prophesyings, and the history of Israel, are put in the Bible for the warning of the people who live in the last days of this word's history. And the instruction of God is there for the people in the last days-to turn to God that they may be saved from actual ruin. That is why those things are put there. So that Amos and Hosea are just as much present truth to-day, to you and to me, and to everybody in the world, as they were to the people in the ten tribes in the day that they wrote. (March 14, 1897 ATJ, GCDB Q41.4)
 The situation now is the same as it was in the days of Amos. There are judgments waiting to be poured out, not upon one nation only, but upon all nations. Men put far away the evil day, and there are many at ease in Zion. "When they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them . . . and they shall not escape." 1 Thess. v. 3. Some are scoffing at the promise of His coming, and "as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away: so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." Matt. xxiv. 38, 39. God's servants should now be proclaiming His Word, calling on men to "fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment is come," to recognise God in His works and receive life and righteousness at His hands, that the prophecy of Amos may be fulfilled to them, "I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be plucked up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God." (September 1, 1898 EJW, PTUK 547.5)
God is the ruler over all things, and the prophecies are but the declarations of His purposes. Every great purpose of God in His works for the salvation of men has been made known before the time for its accomplishments. "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets." Amos iii. 7. He reveals them for the instruction of men, that they may be wise and may know what to do when the time for action arrives. God's great plan for the redemption of men has never from the first moment of its inauguration been standing still. It has been moving steadily forward, and is moving forward to-day. Satan at every step has been opposing the work, and as these opposing forces have met, a crisis has been the result. Then those who were zealous for the glory of God, and whose zeal was according to knowledge, have improved the opportunity to do an important work for God, and have made their names prominent among those who have been counted as His servants. But those who have not "had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do," have thereby failed to relate themselves properly to the work of God, or have stood in opposition to it, and their lives have been dismal failures; for the great purposes of Omnipotence must move forward to their completion, and if a man will not fill the place into the work which God has designed for him, the loss is his, and the honour that might have been his is given to someone else. (October 5, 1893 EJW, PTUK 420.1)
Who will speak of the wonderful love and power of God? Are there any special ones of His followers who are privileged to tell of His goodness, while others must keep silence? Hear what is written: "The Lord God hath spoken, who can but prophesy?" Amos iii. 8. Evidently none can help speaking His word, save those who have not heard it. Jeremiah once, because of the criticism of men, thought he would not make mention of the Lord any more; but he said, "His word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay." Jer. xx. 9. And so when the apostles were even commanded not to speak any more in the name of Jesus, they said "We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." Acts iv. 20. And so it will always be; none will keep silence except those who have not known the voice of God speaking to them. 
"Let those refuse to sing,
Who never knew our God;
But servants of the Heavenly King
May speak their joys abroad." 
(December 28, 1893 EJW, PTUK 609)
-Todd Guthrie

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

“A Holy and Just God” (Joel)

Second Quarter 2013 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“A Holy and Just God” (Joel)
For the week of Apr 20, 2013

 A Holy and Just God

As the minor prophets such as Joel heralded the last messages of comfort, hope, and warning to the people of Judah before the first advent of Christ, so we find in these timeless letters an apocalyptic fulfillment for the generation that lives to see Christ return a second time. "For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope" Romans 15:4.

Joel describes the judgments of God that fell on Israel as a result of their disobedience to His commandments. The Laodicean message found in Revelation chapter three also hints at judgments that will befall God's last church on earth: "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten" Revelation 3:19. We are rebuked for our sins of worldliness and self-righteousness, for our woeful ignorance of our true condition. The remedy includes being clothed with the garments of Christ's righteousness and anointing our eyes with heavenly eye salve that we may see ourselves as Christ does, and see Him as He is.

It was for this purpose that the Lord in His mercy sent a healing message to cleanse, rebuke, and purify us. Speaking to those gathered at the General Conference session of 1893, Brother A.T. Jones quoted Joel 2: " 'Be glad, then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately.' What is the margin? 'A teacher of righteousness.' . . . When He gave the former rain, what was it? 'A teacher of righteousness.' And when He gives the latter rain what will it be? 'A teacher of righteousness.' How? 'According to righteousness.' " A. T. Jones, 1893 General Conference Bulletin, #9.

Bro. Jones goes on to explain that the latter rain message -- this teacher of righteousness -- was sent from heaven to the delegates of the 1888 Minneapolis session through messages that uplifted the righteousness of Christ.

In a later message (#14), also given at the 1893 GC session, Bro. Jones warned that "the nearer we come to the second coming of the Saviour the more fully spiritualism will be professing Christ." But we need not be deceived. The hallmark of Satan's version of the "righteousness of Christ" is self-exaltation. We need to pray that God will give us discernment to know the difference.

Though the work of the latter rain in preparing God's people for the greatest test ever faced by man (outside of Christ's experience on the cross) has been delayed, the promise is sure. The latter rain will come. It will do it's work, and in its wake we will see young and old receiving visions and prophesying; we will witness "wonders in the heavens and in the earth" (Joel 2:28-31); God's people coming into unity to give the last warning message to our world (Joel 2:15, 16); a spirit of repentance manifested by the leadership of the church (Joel 2:17); And the a unified church proclaiming the last warning message to our world in the face of disaster and calamity on every hand (Joel 2:1-11).

"It is true that in the time of the end, when God's work in the earth is closing, the earnest efforts put forth by consecrated believers under the guidance of the Holy Spirit are to be accompanied by special tokens of divine favor. Under the figure of the early and the latter rain, that falls in Eastern lands at seedtime and harvest, the Hebrew prophets foretold the bestowal of spiritual grace in extraordinary measure upon God's church. The outpouring of the Spirit in the days of the apostles was the beginning of the early, or former, rain, and glorious was the result. To the end of time the presence of the Spirit is to abide with the true church. 

"But near the close of earth's harvest, a special bestowal of spiritual grace is promised to prepare the church for the coming of the Son of man. This outpouring of the Spirit is likened to the falling of the latter rain; and it is for this added power that Christians are to send their petitions to the Lord of the harvest "in the time of the latter rain." In response, "the Lord shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain." "He will cause to come down . . . the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain," Zechariah 10:1; Joel 2:23.  Ellen G. White, Acts of the Apostles p. 55
"But unless the members of God's church today have a living connection with the Source of all spiritual growth, they will not be ready for the time of reaping. Unless they keep their lamps trimmed and burning, they will fail of receiving added grace in times of special need.  

"Those only who are constantly receiving fresh supplies of grace, will have power proportionate to their daily need and their ability to use that power. Instead of looking forward to some future time when, through a special endowment of spiritual power, they will receive a miraculous fitting up for soul winning, they are yielding themselves daily to God, that He may make them vessels meet for His use. Daily they are improving the opportunities for service that lie within their reach. Daily they are witnessing for the Master wherever they may be, whether in some humble sphere of labor in the home, or in a public field of usefulness.

"Every worker who follows the example of Christ will be prepared to receive and use the power that God has promised to His church for the ripening of earth's harvest. Morning by morning, as the heralds of the gospel kneel before the Lord and renew their vows of consecration to Him, He will grant them the presence of His Spirit, with its reviving, sanctifying power. As they go forth to the day's duties, they have the assurance that the unseen agency of the Holy Spirit enables them to be "laborers together with God."  Ellen G. White, Acts of the Apostles pp. 54-56

The book of Joel tells of the time period in which "the angel who unites in the proclamation of the third angel's message is to lighten the whole earth with his glory. A work of world-wide extent and unwonted power is here foretold. The Advent movement of 1840-44 was a glorious manifestation of the power of God; the first angel's message was carried to every missionary station in the world, and in some countries there was the greatest religious interest which has been witnessed in any land since the Reformation of the sixteenth century; but these are to be far exceeded by the mighty movement under the last warning of the third angel.

"The work will be similar to that of the day of Pentecost. As the 'former rain' was given, in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at the opening of the gospel, to cause the up springing of the precious seed, so the 'latter rain' will be given at its close, for the ripening of the harvest.

"The great work of the gospel is not to close with less manifestation of the power of God than marked its opening. The prophecies which were fulfilled in the outpouring of the former rain at the opening of the gospel, are again to be fulfilled in the latter rain at its close. 

"Servants of God, with their faces lighted up and shining with holy consecration, will hasten from place to place to proclaim the message from Heaven. By thousands of voices, all over the earth, the warning will be given. Miracles will be wrought, the sick will be healed, and signs and wonders will follow the believers. Satan also works with lying wonders, even bringing down fire from heaven in the sight of men. [Revelation 13:13.] Thus the inhabitants of the earth will be brought to take their stand.

"The message will be carried not so much by argument as by the deep conviction of the Spirit of God. The arguments have been presented. The seed has been sown, and now it will spring up and bear fruit. The publications distributed by missionary workers have exerted their influence, yet many whose minds were impressed have been prevented from fully comprehending the truth or from yielding obedience. Now the rays of light penetrate everywhere, the truth is seen in its clearness, and the honest children of God sever the bands which have held them. Family connections, church relations, are powerless to stay them now. Truth is more precious than all besides. Notwithstanding the agencies combined against the truth, a large number take their stand upon the Lord's side." Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy pp. 611-612 
-Patti Guthrie

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

“Love and Judgment, God’s Dilemma” (Hosea)

Second Quarter 2013 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“Love and Judgment, God’s Dilemma” (Hosea)
 For the week of April 13, 2013

Memory text:  “But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always.”  Hosea 12:6 NIV
Hosea uses metaphors to try to bring spiritual truth to the mind in a familiar way.  God used this method, and still does, because He cares to communicate to us in such a way that we can truly hear Him and respond to His love. 

In the first day’s study, God’s people are compared to a dove, easily deceived and senseless. God is trying to get us to see that unless we are deeply connected to Him, we are easily led to place our trust in powers and rely on human effort instead of placing our trust implicitly in the loving Hands of a loving God. It is so easy to see human aid for our problems instead of seeking the Lord, is it not? Of course, the Lord can use human agents in answer to our prayers, but we must be careful not to use human aid in such a way that, by necessity, we are turning away from the Lord. When we comprehend the goodness of God, it will lead us to repentance. When we understand the Agape Love of God, we will know, more than we have, that He will eventually answer our prayers because He wants to love and bless us.
In Hosea 10 Ephraim is compared to a trained heifer that loves to thresh grain because she can eat as she threshes.  Israel had become self-centered. God wants righteousness and kindness to grow in others through our witness, ministry, and character. God wanted Ephraim to work hard at plowing of the soil, under yoke, to learn the value of giving and unconditional self-sacrificing love. The admonition to sow righteousness concerns people-to-people relationships; the search for God concerns the relationship between God and His people. The breaking up of the soil represents spiritual and social reform and renewal. God wants to shower righteousness upon us. 

Hosea 11 has the beautiful image of a child in the hands of a tender parent. God has cared for us from the beginning and will continue to do so if we maintain our faith in Him and Christ’s faith working in us. 

God’s compassion is stronger than anger. God does not wish to execute His fierce anger. While there are times when God disciplines, He prefers to simply win the heart by love, patience, compassion, mercy, and tenderness. God’s ways transcend those of sinful humanity. He will not let bitterness govern His decisions. God’s love seeks to bring healing, health, and restoration to His people. The purpose of divine discipline is to correct, amend, and reconcile, not to destroy or avenge. God’s heart is like that of a little child-pure, loving, innocent, incredibly kind, sensitive, giving.
God’s salvation will have the last word. He hears our request to take away the guilt that made us stumble. We bring words of genuine repentance as our thanksgiving offering. God then promises us rich blessings. Fruit trees are used as an illustration of God becoming a garden full of blessings for the whole world. Repentance, corporately and individually, is the condition for receiving the blessings of God, by individuals or by the church as a whole. We need to finally fully respond to such images of God’s love, and seek Him with “all our heart.” I ask you, the reader, three questions. Are you seeking for Him with all your heart? Have you sought for Him, ever, with all your heart? Will you seek for Him today with all your heart? And, as a part of that process, will you persevere under trials and duress in order that you find Him, and retain Him in your heart, mind, and life forever? It is truly time for us to experience true and total godly sorrow and repentance, to weep between the porch and the altar, confessing our sins and the sins of our fathers, church, etc. We are called to enter into the Most Holy Place on the Day of Atonement, in Christ, and to fully receive His law, His love, His life, His mind, His Spirit, His heart, into our own. “Unite my heart to know thy name.”  I pray, deeply, that you will finally have this experience. “Show me thy glory.”  Truly, the whole earth will be lightened with the glory of God.  Do not miss the experience.  
-Thomas Cusack

Friday, April 05, 2013

“Spiritual Adultery”

Second Quarter 2013 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“Spiritual Adultery”
For the week of Apr 6, 2013
In the first three chapters (and the entire book) of Hosea there is a message that moves from one position to another. Here the underlying idea or theme is between judgment and salvation. The experience of Hosea’s marriage to Gomer which included heartbreak caused by Gomer’s unfaithfulness and then followed by the joy of their renewed relationship, provide the framework for the message.

     First we have the symbolism of Hosea’s family (1:2-2:1). The major themes of the prophecy are presented in this opening section. Israel unfaithful to God is followed by consequential judgment. After judgment we learn of reconciliation between God and His people. These themes are introduced within the context of God’s command to Hosea to marry and to have children. There is a difference of opinion among Bible students as to whether God told Hosea to marry an adulterous woman or to marry Gomer before she became unfaithful. As with Israel, when the Lord took her as His bride who later became unfaithful (in figurative language), so it was with Hosea and Gomer.

     At the beginning of Hosea’s prophetic ministry God told him to marry, which he did. The marriage became a disaster, characterized by infidelity on Gomer’s part. Here was a picture of Israel’s unfaithfulness to the Lord (cf. 2:2–23). The heartbreak of Hosea mirrored God’s agony caused by His people’s infidelity to Himself. The command: “Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry and children of harlotry” (1:2) can be understood to mean that Gomer came from a family who became debased through sensual indulgence and passed on this degeneracy from one generation to the next. The next phrase gives the reason. It was because Israel committed harlotry. But how did she do it? It was “by departing from the Lord.” Israel was His bride, His wife, and she left Him for another.

Into the marriage between Hosea and Gomer there came three children. The names of each were reminders of the broken relationship between Israel and God. Their names pointed to future judgment and restoration. Each section of the letter concerning the children (vv. 3b–5, 6–7, 8–9) contains the birth notice (vv. 3b, 6a, 8), God’s instruction concerning the names of the children (vv. 4a, 6b, 9a), and an explanation of the meaning of the names (vv. 4b–5, 6b, 9b). God’s words (v. 7) are distinctively characteristic in that they describe the announcement of judgment (v. 6).

     Jezreel was the name given by God for the first child. Jezreel is associated with past and future events at the geographical place called Jezreel. This was the site where Jehu ruthlessly massacred the house of Ahab (1:4). The future judgment is at the same place – Jezreel – and is the scene of Israel’s military demise which is the meaning of “the breaking of the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel” the site of Jehu’s sin. Jehu’s dynasty was cut off forever by the downfall of the Northern kingdom (1:5).

     The second child received the name Lo-Ruhamah meaning “she is not loved.” Her name indicated that the Lord’s love would be cut off for a time because of Israel’s harlotry – the worship of false gods. The term “Ruhamah,” from the verb rāḥam, describes tender feelings of compassion. At Sinai the Lord described Himself as “the compassionate … God” (’ēl raḥûm) who is willing to forgive iniquity (Ex. 34:6). However, despite His forgiving character, times come when He “will by no means clear the guilty” (Ex. 34:7, KJV). God would much rather cleanse from sin if permitted, but Israel refused and so the time had come for the separation of the Northern Kingdom from God.

     In contrast to Israel of the north, the light of God’s grace and grace would shine through the gloom of the impending judgment of the ten northern tribes to Judah. Judah, the Southern Kingdom, in contrast, would receive and experience the Lord’s love. This love was demonstrated when He delivered Judah from the invading Assyrians, not to be accomplished through human military might (symbolized by the bow and sword), but by the Lord’s intervention. This promise was fulfilled when God supernaturally annihilated 185,000 soldiers in the powerful Assyrian army in one night ending its campaign against Judah (see 2 Kings 19:32–36).

     The third child, a son, was named Lo-Ammi (Hos 1:8-9), which means “not My people.” The relationship between God and His people was to be severed. The last clause of Hosea 1:9 (I am not your God) is literally, “I [am] not I AM to you.” This statement alludes to Christ’s words to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you” (Ex 3:14). “I AM,” points to God as the covenant Lord who watches over and delivers His people (cf. Ex 3:16–17). And so now, through the name of Lo-Ammi, the Lord announced that Israel would no longer experience His special saving and protecting presence.

     In the next section the symbolism is reversed (1:10–2:1). In this shift of tone the Lord declared that the judgment and its effects would be reversed someday. He promised a time of blessings and by restoration of the relationship and national unity.

     Despite the loss of the Northern kingdom, Israel will again be like the seashore sand in fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham (Hos 1:19; compare with Gen 22:17; 32:12). Where Israel heard the words “not My people” (Hos 1:9) they will be called “My people” sons of the living God. The sonship reference points to restoration of the relationship, pictured under the figure of a family setting because of God’s mercy (2:1–5).

     But judgment will return. The scene is restoration through judgment, first threatened then initiated, followed by reconciliation and restoration through renewed love and blessings (Hos 2:2-23).

     Moving to the next scene we view the restoration of Hosea’s marriage (chapter 3). The Lord told Hosea to demonstrate his love to his adulterous wife once more. This serves as an object lesson of God’s unconditional love for Israel in spite of her unfaithfulness. Instead of responding favorably to her husband, the Lord, she was turning to other gods again and loving the sacred raisin cakes, delicacies used in feasts associated with Baal worship (3:1).

     Hosea responded obediently to the Lord’s command (cf. 1:3). He bought his wife Gomer back for a substantial price. The value amounted to 30 shekels, the price of a slave (cf. Ex. 21:32). (As an aside, Jesus was sold for the price of a slave (see Zech 11:12 and Matt 27:1-10).

     Not unlike Hosea’s purchase Jesus redeemed His bride, but not with 30 pieces of silver. The purchase of this redemption was with His life. However, like Israel in the past, she took the Lord’s gifts for granted and proudly turned away from Him. In the end she was won back but not without cost. Gomer lost her children. This was because they were “the children of harlotry” (Hos 2:4). So it was with the false religious system of the middle ages symbolized by the figure Jezebel, in the church of Thyratira, and her children which are to be destroyed (Rev 2:22). This is in figurative language. Her children are her false doctrines generated through her prostitution. The offspring were/are conceived in her carnal mind. These children come from the apostate powers of the union of church and state as outlined in Daniel and Revelation (see GC 54; 7BC 979). The Lord cannot adopt these doctrines. They are not His offspring. His doctrines are the truths that are found in Jesus. The professed Christian world has adopted this child of apostasy, refusing to obey God.

     Let’s move on, closer to home. In this week’s lesson for Monday, referring to the experience of Gomer, the following question is asked, “In what ways could we, as Seventh-day Adventists, be in danger of doing the same thing in principle?” Another question might be asked: “Has God’s gifts and blessings been turned from Jesus and given to cherished idols” as in the days of Hosea?
     Rev 3:14-20 may present some answers. Here we learn of the entreaty, the counsel, the heartbreak of the Lord over the sins of Laodicea. Jesus was/is heartsick for His love spurned by Laodicea. His heart breaks with sorrow. He is sick to His stomach. A literal translation of Rev 3:16 describes His experience. This last part of the verse can be translated “you make Me so sick I am about to vomit.” “I am so sick I am about to (mello) throw up (emeo, cf. Eng., “emetic”).

     Consider the following: When Jesus was on earth “The cup of suffering was placed in His hand, as if He were the guilty one, and he drained it to the dregs.” However, His suffering did not stop then. The quotation continues: “He bore the sin of the world to the bitter end. And yet men continue to sin, andChrist continues to feel the consequences of their sin as if he Himself were the guilty one.” (13MR 369). So, what is it that will bring healing to His heart? Will the continual feeling of the consequences of our sins lead us to repentance (Rev 3:19)?  Or will it take hard times as those in the days of Hosea and Israel? Repentance is brought about by God’s judgments, by conviction through the application of the law to the conscience, or by the goodness of God, all of which are outlined in the book of Hosea.

     Not unlike Hosea, Jesus seeks, knocks, and asks us to open the door of our hearts (Rev 3:20). Is there any hope for us? Yes! He will cover us with the wedding gown of His righteousness as we respond in faith to His counsel (verse 18). As Hosea finally succeeded in wooing Gomer back to himself, so it will be with Jesus and Laodicea. There is no eighth church. Laodicea is the seventh and the last church. The message of 1888 remains the plea of Jesus to us to accept his invitation to receive His righteousness today just as it was in 1895:

"The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders [E.J.] Waggoner and [A. T.] Jones. This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God.

Many had lost sight of Jesus. They needed to have their eyes directed to His divine person, His merits, and His changeless love for the human family."  Ellen G. White, Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, pp. 91, 92
Will you accept His invitation today?
                          -Jerry Finneman